When we moved in ten months ago, we inherited a vintage caravan in the garden, a green static, which had once been part of the previous owner’s B&B business for many years. It had stunning Peak District views, amazing proportions and very 1960s interior. We spent several months trying to fathom what to do with it and confused ourselves so much we eventually decided to start work on refurbishing the holiday barn instead.
The barn has gone so well on Airbnb, we’ve had such brilliant reviews and hosted so many lovely guests. We’ve been booked up pretty solidly since we opened, so instead of having a breather from renovations or losing our fantastic workman to another job, we decided to take a gamble and crack on with the caravan.
The caravan is a Bluebird Senator, a static from 1961, it is amazing to think it has survived such a long time, especially when we googled it and discovered another one in a transport museum. We had hoped to keep some of the original features, which were right out of the 1960s, but once we started to investigate, we realised what it really needed was stripping out and re-cladding.
Doing this we realised many of the furniture units were wood-wormed, but that the original wooden structure was in excellent nick. The aluminium casing although in need of a new coat of paint, was also much thicker than you would expect. It was structurally pretty solid!
AFTER the ripping out of the interior which was amazing but exhausted. BEFORE the reconstruction. The 1961 static caravan in the garden is getting a makeover. After months of deliberation we accepted the interior would have to be ripped out and reclad. We’re at that stage of ‘What have we done?’ And ‘Would a new one have been cheaper?’ But the joiner is steaming and singing ahead with masses of enthusiasm and praising the workmanship ‘they don’t make them like they used to’. And it’s dry inside (or at least it was until we stripped it down just before the storms came) so hopefully we’ll be looking at a whole new lease of life soon! Almost as good as a vintage caravan is an upcycled caravan Seriously glad we used to own a caravan because designing one from scratch takes some planning Coming to Airbnb soon!
So our joiner fixed a couple of broken areas, then re-insulated it and re-clad it inside with birch ply. This was a great opportunity to make it much warmer and more sound proof too. They might not make caravans as robustly as they did in the 60s, but modern insulation is safer and a whole lot snugger.
It was time to start thinking about interiors, or so we thought. At this point our joiner came rushing into the house, swiftly followed by a gust of wind, concerned about the large tree over the caravan. We had always planned to get a tree surgeon’s opinion of it before anyone slept in the caravan, but all the snow and rain and a leak under the caravan had made the ground very boggy – it was clearly swaying.
Luckily we befriended a tree surgeon when we moved who was able to come to the rescue. Over a couple of quick visits they removed some weight and braced it so that work could carry on safely. They will be back with a bigger team to take it down completely in the next week or two. Sad to lose a tree, but we’re looking at enough firewood to keep the house and barn snug next winter at least.
With the panic over the tree over, I’m busy looking at ideas for the interior. We originally wanted to create a giant U shaped dining area that converted to a bed, like the shape of the sofa area in the original image you can see below, but the costs were mounting and we wondered if a couple of stylish day beds with a trundle and storage, like these ones from Lionshome could be a much more effective solution. Appreciate this is a grotty phone snap, but would love to know what you think – bespoke or stand alone furniture?
It’s been quite liberating to realise we don’t have to do absolutely everything ‘caravan’ style. I like the idea of staying in a caravan and planning storage carefully, but having owned a caravan, freestanding furniture instead of built in furniture appeals too. Luckily it is a big space.
My favourite part is the accessory shopping, and I’m excited about the fact it is spring and unlike when I shopped for the barn, the car boots will be open for bargains! I’d like to keep something of the vintage feel. Any suggestions what 1960s treasures I should be on the look out for?
There are collaborative elements to this post, theme and opinions my own.